Published by BBC NEWS - 8th February 2024
Dr Frances Dutton
  • Published

Cases of measles are continuing to rise at “disproportionately high rates” in the West Midlands, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has warned.

Figures published on Thursday show 329 of 465 (71%) cases across England from October to February were in the region.

It said a sharp rise over the past six weeks was mainly driven by cases in Birmingham.

A GP in the Sparkbrook area of the city said the majority of cases medics were seeing were in unvaccinated people.

Dr Frances Dutton, of Sparkbrook Children’s Zone, said many of the children and families in the area were experiencing poverty and deprivation.

“This contributes to the bigger picture of child health,” she said.

“There’s lots of vulnerabilities.

“If you haven’t had the vaccines for measles which is the MMR vaccine, which is completely safe and effective, then you are more likely to get measles.”

Address concerns

Dr Dutton, who also works at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said it was harder for families living in financial hardship or precarious housing, or where there was a language barrier, to access vaccination appointments.

She said: “We have been organising sessions with schools and organisations to listen to their experiences about the MMR vaccine and their concerns to try to address them directly.”

Immunisation teams have been out in the area putting up posters on Stratford Road in a bid to raise awareness about the MMR jab.

Measles poster

Elsewhere there have been 62 cases in London, and 32 in Yorkshire and the Humber in the same period. The remaining cases were reported in other regions of England.

Of the 465 cases in England, the majority – 66% (306) – were in children under the age of 10, while 25% (115) were in young people and adults over the age of 15.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “The measles outbreak in the West Midlands continues to be a concern.

“MMR vaccine uptake has been falling over the last decade with one out of 10 children starting school in England not protected. Measles is highly infectious and there is a real risk it will spread to other areas.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your children. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer as soon as possible and protect their child now.”

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